Summary: God's grace transforms a marriage when both partners submit to one another. Here, God says to a woman married to an unbelieving husband, "Submit to your mate, and so win him and woo him with an irresistible inner beauty."
George Hazlett’s wife made him a necktie a few years ago that he rarely wore. In fact, George had forgotten about it until one day a local men's store in Salem, Ohio, announced an “ugly tie” contest. George secretly pulled the tie from its resting place and entered it. He never gave it another thought until he saw it hanging in the store window accompanied by a blue ribbon. Uh Oh! His wife's loving creation was now on public display as “the ugly tie of the day!”
George said, “Although I could see the tie hanging there in the window, I could feel it around my neck – real tight!” (George A. Hazlett, Salem, OH, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader; www.PreachingToday.com)
Why is it that marriage sometimes seems like a noose around your neck? God didn’t design it that way, but there are times when we who are married find ourselves at odds with our mates. Some feel trapped in a relationship that has become stale and stagnant at best and at worst is spiraling out of control into an ever escalating war.
Even the best marriages go through rough spots, but that’s where the grace of God comes in. God’s grace can powerfully transform our marriages. In fact, God’s grace can powerfully transform any relationship even if we have made some stupid mistakes in those relationships.
Do you want to see that happen in your marriage or in your relationships (if you’re not married)? Then open your Bibles, if you will, and turn with me to 1 Peter 3, 1 Peter 3, where God’s Word shows us how God’s grace can work in all of our marriages or relationships.
1 Peter 3:1-2 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (NIV)
Now, these verses continue the thought began in 1 Peter 2:12 where it says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” Our lives are a witness to those who don’t know Jesus yet, first of all in the communities where we live (1 Peter 2:13-17), then in the workplaces where we work (1 Peter 2:18-25), and now here even in the home (1 Peter 3:1-7).
These verses begin by addressing women who are married to unbelieving husbands, literally to those who refuse to be persuaded by the word (i.e., the Word of God). Let me tell you: these men are not going to listen to anybody, leastwise their wives, when it comes to spiritual matters.
Now, for a godly woman living in such a situation, life can get pretty difficult, but God assures her that she can win her husband over to the faith without a word simply by her behavior. All she has to do is “be submissive” in that relationship.
Now, before you ladies start throwing tomatoes, I want you to know that God is going to say the same thing to husbands in verse 7. In the original text, verse 7 literally reads, “Husbands, live with your wives IN THE SAME WAY” – that is, in the same way your wives are supposed to live with you!
Whenever the Bible talks about the husband/wife relationship, it is always in the context of mutual submission – the wife to the husband and the husband to the wife. When the Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5, talks about the role of husbands and wives, he begins the whole section with these words: “SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
You see, when each puts the other first in the relationship, then you have harmony in the home. So ladies (and men), if you want God’s grace to transform your marriage, then…
SUBMIT TO YOUR MATE.
Literally, rank yourself under him (or her). Put yourself under his authority, verse 1 says. Look at it. “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands.”
The question is: In the same way as whom? Well, the previous verses answer that question. 1 Peter 2:13 – Submit “in the same way” a citizen should to his government – “for the Lord’s sake.” 1 Peter 2:18 – Submit “in the same way” an employee should to his employer – “with all respect.” And 1 Peter 2:23 – Submit “in the same way” Christ did when He bore our sins on the cross – without retaliation or threats, but entrusting Himself to God.
If you want God’s grace to transform your marriage, then submit for the Lord’s sake with all respect like Christ did.